We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card! Skipped last week because of the trade deadline.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Evan Rodrigues: ERod found his way back on the scoresheet after a couple of down weeks, and led the team in expected goals for vs LA. He posted strong metrics all week, even in Dallas, where he did this:
What a lovely goal! Love that Newhook tap pass too. A-
Nathan MacKinnon: 3 Goals, 1 Assist
Nate was terrible in Dallas, held off the scoresheet, and beaten down in every matchup against the Stars' forward lines. It was ugly. He came back strong the rest of the week, with goals in every game and generally strong play all over the ice, but single-handedly let the Kraken force overtime with a brutal defensive zone turnover.
If that move succeeds, no one thinks twice about it. But it did not, so it looks incredibly stupid. Especially in that game situation, sometimes you just need to make the safe play up the boards even if you’re as skilled as MacKinnon. And he knows it.
Cale Makar: Great to have him back in the lineup, but he needs to do more. Excluding a fantastic game against San Jose, Cale had just two assists this week and quarterbacked a powerplay that continued to struggle. His underlying stats were middling in those games as well, as the defense corps as a whole failed to box out and limit second-chance opportunities all week.
MINDING THE NET
Hard to blame him individually for any of these games, but Dallas and LA combined for 10 goals while he was in the net. The Dallas game was full of defensive breakdowns, but in the LA game he frankly needed a couple more stops. The Avalanche actually dominated possession and chances all game, but it seemed like every little mistake resulted in a goal – that’s on Georgiev.
That said, he was the only reason Seattle didn’t blow Colorado out, making incredible save after incredible save to protect a one-goal lead and then keep it tied for OT. Love the shutout against San Jose too of course, but that was an easy one.
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Giving it to Keith because, why not! ERod got player of the week. Kinkaid was fine - don’t want him to have to play much, and it’s kind of an indictment of Jonas Johansson and Justus Annunen that he even got one game, but he did his job out there. Georgiev is going to need rest though. One of these three needs to earn the backup job when Francouz gets back. C+
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Mikko Rantanen: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
He’s gone cold at a bad time and is visibly frustrated out there. His penalties for yelling at the refs contributed directly to the Dallas and Seattle losses, and are absolutely unacceptable. This sequence shows how good he can be when he channels his anger properly:
He created other chances against LA and San Jose but no one capitalized on them, himself included. He’s carried this team all season, and that may be weighing on him now.
Bowen Byram: Scoreless, and oddly only had good metrics against Dallas. C
Andrew Cogliano: Goal in Dallas, a couple of frustrating penalties though. C-
J.T. Compher: Scoreless. Not a good look right after the team put its faith in him as 2C by not finding an upgrade at the trade deadline. The underlying stats were decent, though. C-
Lars Eller: Starting to find some connection with Cogliano and O’Connor, but he was near the bottom of every analytic every game. D
Brad Hunt: He’s only getting in games when Kurtis MacDermid is injured right now, and not doing much to deserve to stick when Derm is healthy. C-
Sam Girard: Was the only Av who looked good to me in Dallas, playing physical and putting up a couple of points in the loss. Faded the rest of the week. C+
Jack Johnson: The staff trusts him, and nothing terrible has happened with him out there. Nothing good either. C
Artturi Lehkonen: It just seems like he’s fighting the puck – his passes are all a touch off, he’s losing board battles, and he can’t finish. Effort and metrics are both still good. C+
Kurtis MacDermid: Came back from his concussion with a solid effort against San Jose, but toe-picked himself into the boards awkwardly and missed the Kings game. INC
Dennis Malgin: Scored vs Seattle and San Jose! But literally gave Dallas two goals including an inexplicable turnover right in the defensive slot. He’s overmatched up the lineup, but I like his line with Newhook and Nieto against the lesser competition when they’re playing with confidence. C-
Ben Meyers: Had to play in Dallas because Nuke was sick but didn’t play much. C
Alex Newhook: Two assists in Dallas, one of the only forwards who didn’t tank that game. He did tank the other games, though. C-
Valeri Nichushkin: His physical play was sorely missed in Dallas and excellent vs Seattle and San Jose. He didn’t do much vs LA, though. B
Matt Nieto: Love his PK work – that unit continues to crush since he was acquired. C+
Logan O’Connor: He’s exactly him out there. Effective, low event, great PK work. C+
Devon Toews: He came so close to preventing LA’s first goal on a two-on-one that I won’t fault him for that. Still, outside the San Jose game, he didn’t register a point and was on the ice for too many breakdowns. He’s still great, just not at his peak right now. B-
Three powerplay goals in four games are good. I’ll start there. They have found some consistency, scoring in back-to-back games for the first time since January after MacKinnon ripped this one past Korpisalo in LA.
It’s not the pretty seam pass one-timer you associate with a powerplay goal, but the group did great work moving the puck around to open ice and Val’s screen in front made it look easy for Nate. That’s good powerplay work.
3-of-11 total for the week. They couldn’t score against Seattle to ice the game, though - a major failure in my opinion. In short: Improving process + Good results = B
Another complete shutout. This unit has been so good for the last couple of months, it’s honestly incredible. Georgiev is a huge part of it, making the saves he needs to and stealing a few on top of that, but the aggressive approach from the forwards mixed with the responsible positioning of the defense has forced opponents to dish pucks around the outside til they turn it over.
And it’s two guys Avs fans love to hate on doing the best work out there – Jack Johnson and Sam Girard are elite penalty killers on the back end. Mix them with LOC, Compher, Nieto, and Cogliano and no powerplay can sustain pressure. It’s a joy to watch.
They just have to stay out of the box to keep this going – looking at you Mikko.
In short: Phenomenal Process + Perfect Results = S+
A really mixed bag. Colorado dominated at times and looked completely broken at others. The results were quite bad outside the San Jose game, but honestly, the underlying play was solid for the most part.
Just not in Dallas. That got ugly fast.
They clawed back a little bit at the end of the first and into the second, but a backbreaking Dallas goal crushed the pushback and nothing went right again til Dallas sat back and let it.
Against the Kraken, Colorado actually started strong – perhaps trying to make up for the slow start the night before.
Their second half of a back to back legs caught up to them quickly, however, and despite maintaining a lead most of the game, the Kraken slowly pulled that graph down to the depths over the course of the next 55ish minutes.
San Jose was easy, it’s not worth discussing. Good job, boys!
And then that LA game, what an interesting one! The Kings this season are known for putting up fantastic analytics while barely eking out wins because they can’t score and their goalies can’t stop anything.
Last night Colorado flipped that script, playing great underlying hockey while failing to score and letting LA capitalize on seemingly every little mistake. I genuinely liked Colorado’s game in this one, they just need a couple of saves at one end and a couple of bounces at the other.
In short: Mostly Solid Process + Very Bad Results = C-
CLIP OF THE WEEK: NATE HITS 23 MPH
ERod is as generous to the staff as he is to his linemates.
Evan Rodrigues trades a puck for Sour Patch Kids pre-game.— Hockey Of Tomorrow (@HockeyTomorrow) March 9, 2023
Veteran equipment manager Brad Lewkow sneaks it into his jacket pocket. pic.twitter.com/qPgruM0r5P
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
The LA and Dallas losses were so bad, I should give the team an F. But holding on to earn a point with dead legs against Seattle, truck-sticking San Jose, and playing a strong underlying game against the Kings earned the Avs a bit of a break in my eyes. Not a huge break. Just a little. The points are too important right now for moral victories. D+